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Ski Jacket for Mountaineering?

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Ski Jacket for Mountaineering?

Postby Liquid Shadow » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:42 pm

Recently I bought an Orage Baxter ski jacket off of Steep and Cheap ($300 retail, for $60!!!). I don't ski but I was planning on using for winter mountaineering. However I read that ski jackets are generally not recommended for mountaineering because they are heavy and hard to pack. The Orage Baxter though has a removable down liner that I can take out, which makes the jacket more flexible. The outer shell is also waterproof up to 10k. So I'm wondering if this is suitable enough for mountaineering use?

http://www.backcountry.com/orage-baxter-ski-jacket-mens

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Re: Ski Jacket for Mountaineering?

Postby DaveSwink » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:29 am

Many ski jackets are insultated to keep you warm when not moving, while most mountaineering jackets are relatively simple shells designed to block the wind and hold warmth in your baselayers, which provide the insulation in mountain climbing setups. Mountaining shells are usually built to allow moisture (sweat) to escape by using laminate materials (Gore-Tex) and features like pit zips/venting pockets/softshell material in strategic areas/etc.

Zipping out the insulation and snow skirt from your jacket will leaving it looking a lot like a mountaineering shell. Its made from a laminate so hopefully it breathes somewhat, and it has pit zips to increasing sweat-venting. Looks like a great deal on a shell and you can just zip the insulation and snow skirt back in to go skiing.

Be sure to consider how to build your baselayer and insulation layer since you will be delegating your jacket to shell duty only. A quick forum search will turn up lots of threads with layering advice. The huge advantage of a multi-layered system (including a shell) for mountain climbing is the flexibility to adjust your gear to the wide range of conditions encountered on an average winter day.

For example, mattb528 and I wore only double layers of baselayers for the first mile to Kelso Ridge and then layered on our shells when mounting the ridge exposed us to cold wind. That kept our warm in the baselayers as long as we were moving. If we had stopped for more than a couple of minutes we would have needed to pull out a puffy layer, but we kept moving. Shortly after descending from Torrey Peak's summit, we removed the shells and one of the baselayers to maintain comfort while jogging down. Versatile! :-D
Last edited by DaveSwink on Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ski Jacket for Mountaineering?

Postby Tory Wells » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:31 am

I used to wear soccer shoes when I played baseball, but they worked and we won a lot of games. I think you'll be fine.
"Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, am I." -David Gilmour, Pink Floyd

"We knocked the bastard off." Hillary, 1953
"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." Hillary, 2003
Couldn't we all use 50 years of humble growth?
-Steve Gladbach

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Re: Ski Jacket for Mountaineering?

Postby Liquid Shadow » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:42 am

Thanks for the reply guys.

I have good base layers so I'm not worried about that. The removable liner is essentially a light down jacket, can't it function more or less as the mid layer?

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Re: Ski Jacket for Mountaineering?

Postby DaveSwink » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:50 am

Liquid Shadow wrote:I have good base layers so I'm not worried about that. The removable liner is essentially a light down jacket, can't it function more or less as the mid layer?


Surely, but there will be many times when you will need a shell to block the wind but a down liner would be capturing too much heat. Personally, I don't use a puffy insulating layer because I have found that two baselayers (one is R1 when its really cold) are adequate but many climbers on the forum do use puffy sweaters/shirts as an insulating layer. Play with it and see what works for you. Watch out for getting wet from accumulated sweat under a puffy insulating layer. Getting wet will get you colder than you would be under a thinner, more breathable layer.

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Re: Ski Jacket for Mountaineering?

Postby Dave B » Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:02 am

Liquid Shadow wrote:So I'm wondering if this is suitable enough for mountaineering use?

http://www.backcountry.com/orage-baxter-ski-jacket-mens


You can go mountaineering in this because it's a jacket in the same regard you can run a marathon in high-heels because they're shoes.

In my opinion, winter mountaineering requires specific gear and in arctic conditions (aka Colorado high country) you need the right equipment to protect you from the elements but vent sweat and regulate heat.

I'm not saying it can't be done, but you would probably be happier mountaineering in another climbing specific shell (which can be found relatively cheap) and a good set of layers.

Layers are you friends, unitasker jackets are not.
"There is no cheating in climbing, only lying." - Semi-Rad

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Re: Ski Jacket for Mountaineering?

Postby pvnisher » Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:03 pm

It depends on what you mean by "mountaineering".

Since this is a fairly basic question I'm assuming you mean easy winter hillwalking or snowshoeing? Yes, it will be fine. Just be sure you don't get too hot.

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Re: Ski Jacket for Mountaineering?

Postby Liquid Shadow » Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:05 pm

pvnisher wrote:It depends on what you mean by "mountaineering".

Since this is a fairly basic question I'm assuming you mean easy winter hillwalking or snowshoeing? Yes, it will be fine. Just be sure you don't get too hot.


I will be doing a mixture of easy hillwalking/hiking and more technical glacier/couloir climbs. The particular jacket uses Orage's own Prime 10 technology which is both waterproof and breathable. It also has pit zips like a lot of mountaineering shells, so ventilation is not a problem. Like I stated earlier, I feel like the jacket is really just a mid layer and a shell combined, and I can remove the down liner if it gets too hot.

I will give this jacket a try though when the time comes.

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Re: Ski Jacket for Mountaineering?

Postby pvnisher » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:28 pm

I think you'll find that unless its wicked cold and windy, you'll probably have the down liner out in the first 10 minutes of walking uphill!

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Re: Ski Jacket for Mountaineering?

Postby DaveSwink » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:33 pm

pvnisher wrote:I think you'll find that unless its wicked cold and windy, you'll probably have the down liner out in the first 10 minutes of walking uphill!


Yah, if it's wicked cold and windy it will take 20 minutes. :-D

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Re: Ski Jacket for Mountaineering?

Postby ajkagy » Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:52 pm

keep it simple, layer and unlayer depending on the temp and how uncomfortable you are. Don't let anyone tell you that you need a $600 arcteryx jacket or some particular "technology" in fabric. A down jacket or a shell is just fine, it's just a matter of personal preference. I've used my orage jacket to ski peaks in mid winter, but I usually prefer something a bit lighter in spring because of temps.
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Re: Ski Jacket for Mountaineering?

Postby MuchosPixels » Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:46 am

Hi, for a one day outing I dont see a problem with using a ski jacket as a warm layer for stops or if its frigid. Generally if you are hiking up a slope even if its 10F-20F all you need as far as top layers go is a long sleeve baselayer shirt, a light fleece jacket or pullover and a wind jacket. Then when you stop to rest you can use a ski jacket. If your ski jacket is of the 2 in 1 variety then you can use the insulated jacket for stops and the outer layer as a wind jacket.

For multi-day outings you are best served with a higher quality garments that dry quickly and are lighter weight. I have sweated out several of those budget ski jackets while skiing and trust me it takes a while to dry them. On extended trips is where bad quality garments can ruin your trip and force you to head back and or suffer much more than needed curtailing your enjoyment. On extreme cases your life and or limbs can be in danger.

...And if you are climbing even low technical terrain the you also need to think more about fit and how the layers work with a harness on etc. and how durable is your outer layer against rock.

I know, people have been hiking, backpacking and climbing distant peaks for many many years, well before any of the technological advancement in clothing and gear, and people survived! But, enjoyment and safety is higher today! as long as you understand that high tech gear and clothing is no substitute for good judgement because severe weather can beat anyone almost every time if they make bad choices!

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